Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ome Sweet Ome

In 1990, the Human Genome Project was launched, seeking to identifying the more than 20,000 genes in human DNA. But that was just the beginning of the new era of the "omes" in science.

Modern mass spectrometers are able to identify all of the proteins in a given sample of cells. This approach has been termed the "proteome."

And the analysis of all of a cell's metabolites has been fittingly termed the "metabolome."

The "-ome" suffix in modern molecular biology science means "all constituents considered collectively," and it has become more and more popular as new technology has enabled the pursuit of BIG science.

Whereas molecular biological thesis projects used to be completed after the identification of a single gene, now the identification of tens of thousands of genes may only make up a single thesis chapter. Genomic studies can lead to transcriptomic studies (the identification of all transcribed genes) to proteomic studies, and so on. Researchers have moved beyond technical proficiency at the bench to also be able to understand the basics of computational biology and the field of bioinformatics.

In some recent published articles proposing the creation of brain activity maps as part of an initiative supported by the White House Office of Science and Technology, researchers focused on the brain will attempt to create "connectomes" the identification of all the neural connections in a given brain circuit.

Other "omes" are likely being collected in laboratories all around the world.

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